By Daniel Hunter

Almost half (45%) of UK adults have abandoned an online transaction after becoming frustrated over the length and complexity of the identity validation and security checks, according to research published by Experian, the global information services company.

The new study reveals the degree to which identity and security procedures continue to be a source of annoyance for consumers and are often a cause of lost business for online retailers and other service providers.

It identified that of those who have abandoned an internet-based purchase, nearly half (47%) took their custom to a competitor after becoming irritated with the process, one in five (20%) gave up completely, while one in six (17%) tried again at a later date.

Using Mosaic, Experian’s demographic profiling, the survey found that the Elderly Needs group, characteristically pensioners in their 70s, 80s and even 90s who are no longer as physically active as they were, are the most patient, with only 32% having completely left a transaction in the last 12 months.

In contrast, the Upper Floor Living group, typically young, single adults on limited incomes, was found to be the least patient with 43% saying they had abandoned one or two deals due to lengthy security checks, and 16 per cent admitting to having done so ‘frequently’.

As more business is conducted online, one in two UK adults believe transactions are becoming increasingly time consuming (49%) and complicated (53%). The Rural Solitude group, typically those living in small, isolated villages with poor access to broadband, were most frustrated, with three quarters (72%) believing verification processes are becoming more complex, significantly higher than the national average.

“Identity verification is becoming an increasingly important part of an organisation’s operations, particularly as the process of dealing with consumers face-to-face is becoming less commonplace. However time-consuming they appear, identity checks are in all our interests, not only protecting businesses from fraud but also individuals," Nick Mothershaw, Director of Identity & Fraud at Experian, commented.

“Identity impatience” was greatest in the online gaming environment where consumers will only endure a four minute wait before opting out. Whilst only a short window of time, this is an increase of one minute on 2011 figures, which means people are more forgiving than two years ago.

Tolerance levels were also low in the retail sector, with customers only willing to undergo up to five minutes of checks despite the channel’s relative convenience. It is estimated that abandoned transactions in the retail sector equates to around £2.3billion worth of lost revenue.

Consumers are, however, far more understanding when it comes to purchasing a mortgage or insurance, with individuals happy to wait approximately 10 minutes and nine minutes respectively. This degree of tolerance was also similar for transactions across the travel industry, where respondents said they were happy to spend up to nine minutes while their identity was been verified.

Public sector services are similarly susceptible to impatient consumers. The research found consumers are only prepared to tolerate being online for seven minutes whilst interacting with NHS, government and public services before losing patience.

“Customers are looking for a quick, easy procedure when passing online identity checks to access services and we hope this will become a reality with the new government assurance scheme coming into play in 2014 The more straightforward the system, the better this is for both the customer, as well as provider," Nick Mothershaw continued.

“Our research shows that businesses are at risk of losing out on trade as thousands of consumers are taking their custom elsewhere. Both private and public sectors are equally exposed, suggesting that every online services provider needs to get it right first time.

"It is therefore vital for retailers and service providers to make sure the transaction process is as fast and simple as possible, without compromising the level of site security, in order not to miss out on business. Experian can help businesses optimize the process of identifying who they are dealing with, striking the right balance between security and a good customer experience.”

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